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Thursday, December 22,2011

A taste of Kerouac

By Clay Fong

Among the guys in my high school, there were two kinds of people. You had those who worshipped at the altar of The Who and the Rolling Stones, devotees of high-powered Brit guitar rock. I was one of those guys. On the other hand, there were the tie-dyed Deadheads. These guys would swap cassette bootlegs and would attend Dead shows night after night at the Oakland Auditorium. For some inexplicable reason, the kids in this faction were the student government types.

 

Our student body president would have felt at home at Minglewood, a new eatery primarily catering to a lunchtime worker crowd near 55th and Arapahoe. Staff wearing Steal Your Face t-shirts, posters featuring Jerry, and a menu paying homage to Beats and bands ranging from Kerouac to Jefferson Airplane (how Grace Slick could go from “Somebody to Love” to “We Built This City” still confounds) give this spot distinctive character.

Hot and cold sandwiches, entrée salads and a rotating selection of soups and desserts make up the menu. Sandwiches come with a choice of side, ranging from standard chips and green salad to more unique specials like sun-dried tomato polenta.

Colleagues Margot, Carin and I began lunch with the daily soup special, a $3.50 cup of vegetarian cream of red pepper with mushrooms. The mild peppery sweetness complemented the cream, and earthy mushrooms contributed meaty heft. Rosemary-scented bread provided a bracing accompaniment, and this soup wouldn’t be out of place at a more expensive, sit-down restaurant.

Margot and Carin enjoyed two similar sandwiches from The Fatman Melts category. Margot’s meatless $8 Annie Bonneau consisted of a pile of eggplant, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella and tomato.

The onion’s sweetness and smoky cheese helped this toasted sandwich achieve flavorful depth, rendering the addition of meat unnecessary. This point was driven home by Carin’s similar $9 Lady with a Fan sandwich, which differed mostly from the Anne through the addition of capicola, Italian-style cured meat. Here, the capicola made for more of a seasoning than an ingredient, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Carin said the soup-like side of roasted tomato dipping sauce grew on her over time. We were less enthusiastic about the sides of vinegar-splashed potato salad and a grilled vegetable mélange featuring mushroom and eggplant. Each felt like it lacked an ingredient or two to round out the flavors.

I enjoyed a $9.95 lamb meatball panini adorned with smoked mozzarella, caramelized onion and a lively tomato sauce. The lamb’s delicacy, combined with the tomatoes’ brightness and the smooth-yet complex qualities of the mozzarella, made for a compelling combination that made typical meatball subs pale in comparison.

We finished with a slice of $6 orange ricotta cheesecake, lined with a buttery pastry crust. A bit of orange zest and the subtle tang of ricotta evoked a sophisticated take on the Orangesicle. While this sweet was unquestionably rich, it retained a definite lightness of texture, and would also be worthy of a pricier eatery.

You don’t have to be a Deadhead to enjoy Minglewood’s cut-above offerings. When you factor in that sides are included in the cost of their meals, their prices aren’t far off those of sandwich chains. Quality ingredients, careful preparation and a cheerful vibe make this a welcome lunch spot whether you appreciate psychedelic 20-minute drum solos or not.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

Minglewood 1606 Conestoga St. #3 Boulder 303-442-0585

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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